Category Archives: Photography

Cigarettes After Sex — “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” and Other Love Songs

The seventh episode of The Handmaid’s Tale ended with this song, “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby,” by an ambient pop group named Cigarettes After Sex. I’ve had them on heavy rotation for the last two weeks.

Cigarettes After Sex is, basically, a Brooklyn-by-way-of-Texas singer-songwriter named Greg Gonzalez and an evolving troop of collaborators. In 2012, Gonzalez recorded the first and so far only Cigarettes After Sex EP in a stairway at his alma mater, University of Texas at El Paso. He released a handful of singles over the following five years, and, somewhere along the way, attracted an online following. The audio-only YouTube version of “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” currently shows more than 62 million plays.

Cigarettes After Sex released a self-titled début album earlier this summer. The music reminds me of the Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star, but it’s even more lush and sensual than that of those 80s virtuosi. The band’s name certainly captures the mood of its music.

The cover photography, btw, is by Man Ray.


Here are some of the singles. Audio only.

“Affection” (2015)

“K.” (2016)

“Each Time You Fall in Love” (2017)

The Game of Thrones Pop-Up Bar Is Open for Business

Drink Company, the people behind Washington’s hugely successful “Miracle on Seventh Street” Christmas Pop-Up Bar, are at it again.  And who can blame them, when this Spring’s even more successful Cherry Blossom PUB had customers waiting in line for up to three hours to get in.

It’s going to be worse this Summer.

The 2016 Christmas Pop-Up Bar contained a salute to last year’s breakout Netflix hit, Stranger Things, which, as you can see by the pictures at the above link, included an alphabet wall, erratically strung Christmas lights, and a shrine to Stranger Things fan favourite Barb.

Now let’s think. What TV show will everybody in the known universe be obsessed with in Summer of 2017?

No, not that—the Impeachment trial isn’t until next year. Guess again. (Hint: Check the title of this item.)

The masks in the Hall of Faces are plaster casts of the faces of Game of Thrones PUB staff and friends.

Guests can occupy the Iron Throne itself, but only for as long as it takes to get a quick photo. Sort of like visiting a department store Santa Claus when you were young.

The bar under the Weirwood Tree serves drinks with GoT-related names like “The North Remembers” and “The Lannisters Send Their Regards”. I suspect the biggest hit will be a tequila and grapefruit tonic called “Shame”. Whenever it’s served, the costumed bartenders will ring a bell and shout “Shame”.

The Game of Thrones PUB opened this week, and will run until the last episode of this year’s series, which ends on 27 August 2017. The bars will close at 7PM every Sunday night, so customers and staff can watch GoT at home.

All photos found on the Net.

Offered at Auction: Warhol — The Album Covers

Oh, this looks like fun! Andy would approve.*

Between 1949 and 1987, Andy Warhol designed the sleeves for 60 LP records. And now you can own the whole set. All you have to do is place the high bid in an auction.

The estimate is €50,000 (about ~US$55,980).

The Complete Warhol LPs, the full set of Andy Warhol record sleeves, will be offered at auction by PIASA in Paris on 22 June 2017. According to the auction notes:

“This unique ensemble, assembled by a passionate music-lover, transports us through 40 years of musical creativity. It has never been offered at auction before.”

The 60 vinyl discs are included in the collection, but the notes say nothing about the vintage or condition of the records.

Warhol’s instantly recognizable jacket for the first Velvet Underground album, featuring a peelable banana, is the most famous item in the collection, and one of the best known record sleeves of all time. Warhol is credited as the “producer” of the album, which was hugely influential, and still shows up on most “Greatest Rock Album Ever” lists, 50 years after its release. The copy offered at auction was signed by Warhol.

Also included is the notorious jacket for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, which featured a very explicit crotch shot of Joe Dallesandro—“…generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century,” according to Wikipedia—in skin-tight jeans. The Smiths later used a photograph of Dallesandro from the Warhol film Flesh as the cover of their 1984 self-titled début album The Smiths.

A related video. (As if I needed an excuse to post it….)


*On second thought, Warhol would probably be irritated that someone else figured out a way to monetize the album jackets before he did.

 

Symmetry Breakfasts — Breakfast as an Art Form

One morning back in 2013, Michael Zee made breakfast for himself and his boyfriend, Mark. When he plated the meal, he noticed it was symmetrical, and took a picture of it with his IPhone.

That was the first of several hundred symmetrical breakfasts.

Zee, who was teaching at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, started posting the pictures to his Instagram feed, where they went viral. As I write this, he’s published images of 1,297 breakfasts, and has acquired almost 700,000 followers.

He still gets up by five every morning, to prepare an often elaborate and always beautiful meal. His breakfasts are literally works of art.

(Me, I’m not a morning person—I often get less done in a whole day than some people do before breakfast. If I have any breakfast at all, it’s either a warmed croissant with lots of Irish butter, or cereal with cream (real creamnot skimmed milk, not 2% milk), and some combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, golden raisins, and bananas, which some judgmental people have been known to describe as my “wake-up dessert.”)*

Last year Zee published a book called SymmetryBreakfast, which contains both gorgeous pictures of meals, and 100 of the recipes that produced them. You can see the full collection of Zee’s images on his Instagram feed at  Symmetrybreakfast.

All the photos here were found on the web.


*Ummmm, butter and cream. Gotta keep those cholesterol levels in the “Who wants to live forever?” territory.

Spring at the National Cathedral

Years ago, I made it a rule to schedule an at-home vacation during the first week in May. Except for the occasional day trip to Baltimore or Annapolis, I spent the time in Washington, catching up on movies or museum exhibitions that I’d missed, taking care of household tasks, and generally enjoying the warm springtime weather.

The week’s vacation always ended the same way, with a visit to the National Cathedral. Since 1939, the Cathedral has hosted an annual two-day “Flower Mart,” which begins on the first Friday in May.

A spring fete in and around the cathedral? Could there be a more likely setting for a good old-fashioned Agatha Christie murder mystery? Anglophile and Agatha Christie fan that I am, there was no way I could pass that up.

There was always a chance I’d stumble over a body in the flower beds herbaceous borders, and I wouldn’t want to miss that.


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

—attributed, probably incorrectly, to Albert Einstein

I had another, more practical reason for attending the event: Herbs.

One of the great attractions of the festival is the immense selection of potted herbs for sale on the grounds. Every year, I’d fill a bag with six or eight little plants, carry them home, carefully re-pot them, set them on a windowsill, and faithfully follow the care and feeding instructions printed on their identifying name plates.

And every year, the damned things would be dead in less than a month.

Well, not this year. I’ve finally broken that old and frustrating habit. From now on, I’ll be buying all my herbs in those sealed little plastic packets in the produce department of Giant, as Nature intended.

I may have a black thumb, but I’m not crazy.


After filling my knapsack with late-night munchies from the Episcopal Church Women’s Baked Goods booth, I had to make the difficult choice between competing festival food vendors for my on-site meal.

Crepes or Paella?
Sweet or Spicy?
France or Spain?

This time, the Spanish won. I chose a big serving of the shrimp paella, ate half of it at the festival, and finished it off at home.

Proof: Time Travel Exists! And the Wrong People Are Using It.

A few weeks ago, I posted an item about Il Paradiso, the huge painting that hangs in the Chamber of the Great Council in Venice. That’s it in the picture above, which, btw, you should definitely enbiggen, because it’s a stunning work of art. It was painted by Tintoretto and the members of his workshop, and I’ve been entranced by it for more than a decade. It was the one great cultural achievement that I had to see in Venice.

But now it’s all been tainted. I noticed something for the first time, and I’ll never be able to un-see it.

Look at the picture again. Look at the center of the painting. Do you see it now?


There, directly behind Jesus, some time-travelling tourist with a selfie stick is ruining the Ascension of the Just into Heaven because he wants a souvenir photo of himself at the great event.


That’s it.

And I’m left with the sad knowledge that I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life missing the grandeur of great art, because I’ll be too distracted by looking for depictions of IPads in the paintings of Rubens, and images of smartphones in the works of Burne-Jones.